Zio-con leader laments: “What Might Have Been”

January 29, 2016 in News by RBN

Weekly Standard | William Kristol

Watching the Republican debate tonight, I couldn’t help but think,

“For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!'”

What we saw tonight was what the Republican race might have been without Donald Trump. The debate was substantive, the candidates were reasonable, a viewer didn’t feel embarrassed to be a Republican, and indeed one felt—at least I felt—that several of the candidates, including the top two, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, would do fine against Hillary Clinton.

Could the consequence of the debate be to begin the deflation of the Trump balloon? I’ll grant that I may be indulging in wishful thinking, but I think so. If you were an undecided Iowa voter, or a leaner one way or another, I think you saw something to like in one or more of the candidates on the stage. I don’t think you recoiled from the spectacle and said, “I want Donald.” The national media is enraptured with the narrative of The Triumph of Trump, so they’ll want to say that he was the winner in absentia. But I think for actual Republican voters, especially in Iowa, he was simply in absentia. And I don’t think absence made the heart grow fonder. I suspect absence made the heart start to question why it was interested in Trump in the first place.

If so, the sad words—what might have been—could become the cheerful words—what still might be.